Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Exercise and Air Pollution


It has long been known that high levels of ozone exposure are dangerous to health, and levels of ozone are monitored in most metropolitan areas. In 1979, the Federal Health Standard for "good air quality" was set at .12 parts of ozone per 1 million parts of air for one hour (abbreviated as ppm/hour). The Canadian level is set at .08 ppm/hour, and experts in the U.S. have seriously questioned the margin of safety provided by the national clean air standard.

A Stage One ozone episode occurs at an ozone concentration of .20 ppm/hour and is defined as "air unhealthy for sensitive people." The elderly, young children and people with underlying heart and lung diseases are usually in the category of "sensitive people." So are exercising healthy adults. However, new evidence indicates that lung function is impaired in exercising healthy adults when concentrations of ozone are at or below the Federal Clean Air Standard of .12 ppm/hour.

How much ozone enters your lungs depends mainly on how much is in the air, but the intensity and duration of your workout are also factors. If you run at an easy pace for 20 minutes, and a friend bicycles at top speed for 40 minutes in the same air, your exposure will be less than hers.

People vary in their sensitivity to ozone. The limited studies to date suggest that "impaired performance may begin at .12 ppm/hour and is very likely at .20 ppm for most athletes exercising heavily for one or more hours," says Dr. Henry Gong, a researcher at UCLA.

Healthy lungs seem to be able to adapt to smog and perhaps protect themselves from its effects. After two to seven days of ozone exposure, most people have less severe symptoms and less respiratory difficulty. Smog-sensitive people may take a longer time to adapt.

Contrary to popular belief, high doses of vitamin E (800 to 1600 I.U.) have not been shown to protect against the effects of air pollution. Doses of 1 gram of Vitamin C a day may lessen some symptoms in some people exposed to very high levels of ozone (.30 ppm for 2 hours). However, this amount of Vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal upset.

What are the long-term health effects of exposure to polluted air?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

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